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Overview of New York Wrongful Death Cases

Overview Of New York Wrongful Death Cases

Accidents involving personal injuries can be tragic and affect entire families, but these incidents are even more devastating when they lead to the death of a loved one. Your life will be forever changed through the careless, reckless, or intentional acts of someone else. However, it may come as some consolation that you may have legal options as a survivor. New York law provides for a type of claim termed a “wrongful death” case, and this remedy is intended to compensate you for your overwhelming losses.

It’s wise to discuss your circumstances with a New York wrongful death and personal injury lawyer who can explain the details and guide you through the legal process. You can also read on for some general information about the relevant laws.

Legal Basis for New York Wrongful Death Claims:

New York’s law on Estates, Powers, and Trusts (EPT) lays out the foundation for a wrongful death case, describing the rights of family members when someone dies in an accident. Generally, the theory behind wrongful death claim is similar to other personal injury cases in the sense that negligent conduct was the cause of the incident. To establish your rights in a case based upon negligence, you must prove:

  1. Your loved one died;

  2. The death was a result of misconduct by the responsible person or entity;

  3. The fatal incident would have allowed the deceased individual to file a personal injury lawsuit had he or she lived;

  4. As a surviving family member, you suffered losses because of the decedent’s passing.

In addition, the EPT is very specific on who has standing to file a wrongful death case. In New York, only the personal representative of the decedent’s estate can pursue such a claim. This individual will be the one who has authority to administer the estate, which may be the executor named in a will or a person appointed by the court if the deceased left no will.

Examples of Wrongful Death Cases:

To illustrate how these claims work, some examples may be helpful. You may be eligible to receive compensation if your loved one died as a result of:

  1. A car, truck, or motorcycle crash;

  2. A pedestrian or bicycle accident;

  3. An incident on public transportation;

  4. A slip, trip, or fall because of dangerous conditions on property;

  5. Medical malpractice;

  6. Defective consumer products; and,

  7. Many more.

Plus, some wrongful death claims may be based upon intentional criminal acts, such as gunshots or assault. In such cases, it may not make sense to seek damages from the perpetrator, but you could consider a claim against an individual or entity that was negligent in preventing the misconduct. For instance, you could file a wrongful death claim against the owner of the property where an attack occurred, if the incident was the result of inadequate security.

Seeking Compensation for Your Losses:

The personal representative of the decedent’s estate is tasked with initiating the legal process, which often starts by filing a claim with the responsible party’s insurance company. If the insurer won’t settle for a fair, reasonable amount, it may be necessary to file a lawsuit in court. Note that the statute of limitations in New York wrongful death cases is two years, NOT the three-year time restriction for other personal injury cases. The statute is tolled if the only person who will receive benefits is a minor.

In a successful claim, the personal representative recovers compensation for the deceased person’s distributees, i.e., the surviving spouse and children, in equal shares. Other relatives may have rights where the victim wasn’t married and had no children. It’s possible to obtain monetary damages for:

  1. Funeral and burial expenses;

  2. Medical costs related to the victim’s last illness;

  3. Lost wages from the deceased would have earned from the date of the accident until death;

  4. The value of support, services, care, guidance, and education for survivors; and,

  5. Interest on the total damages award, at nine percent from the date of death.

Trust a Skilled New York Wrongful Death Attorney to Handle Your Claim

As you can see from the above description, it takes skill and extensive legal knowledge to pursue a wrongful death case. These matters are similar in some ways to other personal injury claim, but they’re very unique and require specific experience. To learn more about how we can assist you with the legal process at this difficult time, please contact The Mandel Law Firm. You can set up your no-cost, no-obligations consultation by calling our Manhattan office at (646) 770-3868 or via our website.

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